Constellation Reflection

Last year I struggled with accepting how constellation was relevant to my subject area and questioned how it would benefit me. This term, I got my first choice in constellation which was Cath Davies’ Goddesses and Monsters: Glamour and the Grotesque in Visual Culture.  I’ve found this constellation option a lot more relevant to my practice and have therefore enjoyed it a lot more. The theories and discussions brought up in Cath’s sessions have been very intriguing to me, so much so that I am considering basing my dissertation on some of the themes and ideologies that have been covered. At first I believed that I would struggle with the fact that the sessions were each 5 hours long, they have actually been very interesting and engaging and I didn’t notice the time.

Regarding the essay that we needed to write this term, I felt more prepared and ready in this option to write the essay. I felt I had a strong grasp on the concepts we’d covered and I knew which parts I identified personally with and therefore found the essay I lot easier. I chose to try and answer the question : “Is the idea of the beautiful and ideal body glamorous or monstrous?” Throughout the sessions this idea kept reoccurring in my head that some of the points Cath were making about the separate ideas of glamorous and monsters bodies were perhaps not separate entities found in different images and therefore could overlap. I found it easy to find a relevant image which I felt I could analyse for this question and used a variety of theories and academics to support my work including the Pygmalion myth and the theory of the vagina dentata.

When deciding on constellation options I was quite hesitant in choosing Cath’s module as I am a little bit of a wimp when it comes to blood and gore. Some of the images and ideas that were discussed did make me feel a bit queasy but the majority was so engaging that it didn’t really bother me.

Overall I’m glad that I chose this option. I thought it was really interesting how Cath had tried to make it relevant to each subject by discussing and analysing materials and the connotations behind different fabrics. As a textiles student I found this to be very beneficial, this made me think of my practice and the meanings of different elements in my work. Not only has it been helpful for my subject but also I feel that the dissertation is a lot less intimidating. Thinking about what I’d like to write about now has made me conscious that the more I prepare and research in advance will help me when I come to write the proposal and the dissertation itself. I will be taking advantage of Christmas break and researching potential themes.

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Field Module : Work Experience – Reflection

Over the past four weeks I have been working for the company Monsoon Accessorize in the headquarters in West London. I have been shadowing the buying teams in two different departments in the Accessorize region of the company, the children’s brand “Angels” and Seasonal and Stationery. My main role was to support the Buyer Admin Assistants in whatever they needed me for, be this, daily tasks such as fetching samples or more job role relevant tasks such as helping with buyers comments submissions to suppliers. I chose to work for this company as I really wanted to gain some experience in the career of buying, Monsoon Accessorize were one of the only big retailers who were able to offer just a month of work experience. I had originally wanted to complete my work experience at Laura Ashley Head Office but unfortunately they did not offer internships shorter than 6 months. Monsoon Accessorize was still a company I could envisage myself working in however I would’ve preferred to be able to work with home interior products, as this is the area in my subject which I’m most drawn to. This experience has made me realise that I am quite fond of the stationery industry, working in the Seasonal and Stationery team meant I saw a range of different designs and products. I felt that I could connect with the products easier in this team than the Angels team; I think this is important because as a buyer you need to be enthusiastic about the products you are buying for the stores. The whole experience has been an enjoyable one; however, the most beneficial part for me would be the new insight I have into a new career option I may want to pursue in the future, after university. I feel that I have gained a variety of new skills which have all come from shadowing in a brand new work environment and role. I feel I have a grasp of what a buyer actually does whereas before my placement, I knew very little about their day to day tasks. I also managed to gain a days experience in visual merchandising, an area I believed I also may have wanted to pursue in the future. This experience was actually less enjoyable than I thought it was going to be and changed my mind on this career. I do however believe it may just be that I was only in this area for one day, so I would like to be able to complete another placement to see if my perceptions of this role would be changed or stay the same. The experience was different to what I had expected, and I thought I would come out of it with a clear decision of what career I would like to pursue in the future, unfortunately, this hasn’t happened for me. I believe the experience will give a positive impact on my studies. Throughout the experience I have developed on personal skills such as time management, independency, confidence and professionalism which I feel are all crucial in both my university work and future job roles.


Week Four – continued

11/12/2014
Today I have been working with the Angels team, to begin with I tidied up the new room as they had a meeting in there at midday. I then finished off my PhotoFile task from my first week! Now that Anna had shown me how to add new products onto he system I was able to do this for the Angels AW14 collection. After this, Tarran asked me to create a small PowerPoint on some of our products from AW14 that should be promoted in store by being placed in a certain way etc by the visual merchandisers. She asked me to create three slides, “Party Girl”, “Presents from Santa” and “Winter Warmers.” Apart from this, today I ran errands for Rosie and Taran like finding documents called PCFs from suppliers regarding the products and stapling them to the PO of the same product. I also sent things to suppliers via courier. I’ve felt quite independent today and have just been getting on with tasks set. Working back with the buyers today made me realise I think I prefer this to the visual merchandising however I feel that it would be beneficial to me to experience the VM role again if another internship opportunity were to arise. I can’t believe it’s my last day tomorrow!!

12/12/2014
My last day as an intern for Monsoon Accessorize. Today I helped out Anna with the new room, organising all the different boxes into categories etc. After this, I worked with Taran doing buyer tech approval forms which is basically an excel document with all the buyer and tech’s comments about a product from the initial sample to the final product which will be in stores. The approval forms I completed were all for approved red seal samples meaning that there were not many amendment comments needed. This was a great thing to help with as it is one of the main duties of a buyer. Once the forms were completed, I emailed them to the suppliers. This was quite an important job for me to do and I made sure I was 100% focused as to not get anything wrong, I think delegating these kinds of important roles to me shows that the buyers trust me to do well. I continued with these buyers comments for the rest of the day. About an hour before I was due to leave, I asked Taran if she wouldn’t mind giving me some feedback on my performance throughout the internship. We discussed how I’d gotten on during the four weeks, she said she was very pleased with how I’d done, that I’d picked things up very quickly and remembered everything I’d learnt, I’d used my own initiative to do tasks which hadn’t been asked of me. She explained that she felt I’d been very professional, being punctual everyday and had an overall positive attitude towards the whole experience. Though I may have made one or two minor mistakes, these were resolved and she could tell they were not careless mistakes but learning experiences. She said that she liked to be able to give constructive criticism to work on… But she couldn’t think of anything as an intern I could’ve done better!! It was great to hear such great feedback! It really made me proud of the whole experience. Taran said that if I ever want to apply for another internship or even a job in Accessorize to contact her for a reference. She then gave me a bag full of gifts which several teams had contributed to. I was quite overwhelmed by how positive i had been received by everyone and didn’t want to leave! I feel that the experience has made me into a much more professional person and feel that it has given me a definite idea of the area I’d like to pursue as a career, I believe it would be helpful for me to experience another one or two internships in the future to decide if this is definitely for me but overall it has been a great experience and I have learnt so much and gained so much from it. I came into the experience not really knowing very much about buying and I’ve come out of it feeling I have a clear grasp on the job!
Though my work experience was not as practically creative in a design based way as other people’s internships , I wanted to experience a different area of the industry. As a buyer you still have to be very creative, a lot of the time in Accessorize the buyers dictate to the designers what they want created, also they need to have a visual eye to explain to the suppliers what amendments or parts to keep with the different products. I witnessed both teams actually designing products and sending their ideas to the suppliers to create , though it slightly a different process I still feel I would be able to use my creative and visual eye in these job role.


Week Four – Day with the Visual Merchandisers

10/12/2014

Today I’m with the visual merchandisers Becky and Lindsey. In the morning we went over to mock shop to finalise everything as they’re having a sign off at mid-day. Becky explained to me the standards each product must be at, the bags must all be stuffed and scarfs must be on a hanger in a certain way. All labels have to be tucked away as much as possible and the majority of products must be pulled forwards on the prongs, with exceptions. With certain bags and hats they look better if they are against the wall so as a visual person you must make your judgement on this. She explained the Accessorize as a company are quite strict with their stores in their VM guidelines as they feel it creates a better buying experience for customers. We had to pick up a few samples from the Bags, Footwear and Hat departments to fill out he mock shop a little more. Becky explained there are usually different themes in each department which have different colours schemes and styles for examle Bordeaux is rich berry and burgundy colours, whilst Pastel is full of paler tones. These sections are grouped together yet the whole of the shop must work together so you wouldn’t put certain sections next to each other in a store as they just wouldn’t work next to each other. Once we had finished checking everything we went back over to the office where Becky showed me the guideline documents which get sent to every store, this document gets sent out every month and explains any changes the VMs in store need to make in the shop. There are slight variations regarding what the store would do due to the size of the shop, whether they have tables or not and the products which are stocked in each store. She asked me to read through a couple of these documents and give my opinion on whether I thought I’d be able to set up a store with these guidelines. They were very straight forward and clear and she said that it is very important that it stays like this and communication is vital between the office and the stores for the brand style to continue throughout all stores.
She then showed me another document which had images of the press day which had been previously held, unfortunately I missed out on this was I was not on placement when it was held. Becky explained that the VMs can be more eccentric and creative with press days and that they’re great fun to do!

After this I had to help do some admin work whereby the new guidelines for January will be sent out to all stores. At Accessorize they do this by hand and post the documents out instead of emailing them.. I’m not quite sure why, it would take less time to email them but here must be a reason!
After lunch I will help Becky go back to the mock shop and take pictures of the current layout which has been approved and then edit the layout for the other stores which do not have tables.
It’s a shame that I’m interning with the VMs after their sign off as it means that most of the actual visual merchandising has already been done but hopefully i will learn a lot today.

After lunch Becky and I went back over to mock shop, we made small adjustments from what the director had said during sign off and then took photos which will be sent to all the stores to base their store around. After this, we needed to edit a section. The leather bag collection is on a table in the UK however in other countries this would need to be on a wall. We worked about with how each bag would go on the wall which turned out to be trickier than first expected, each bag needs to look appealing to customers but there needed to be one main focus bag at the same time. There were a lot of different colours and sizes and styles included in the range which all needed to work together as a collection. It took time but we got there in the end and we were both happy with the results. It was nice that my opinion on what the collection looked like actually mattered, unfortunately I probably won’t see the layout in a store as they will be outside of the UK but it was still satisfying to see it finished!
I spoke to Lindsey, the head visual merchandiser about whether I could take pictures in the mock shop but unfortunately she said I wasn’t allowed as the products are not even in store yet and the layout needed to be protected too.

I learnt a lot all about visual merchandising and the process today, it was great to explore different elements as well as buying. I wish that I had planned to view more of the different teams within Accessorize when I got my placement but hopefully I can do this in the future. I’d hoped that today would confirm whether it was buying or visual merchandising I would like to pursue as a career but unfortunately I think one day is just not enough to make this decision! However I definitely enjoyed it!


Week Four

08/12/2014
I can’t believe it’s week four already! This internship has flown by, I’ve got an exciting last week to look forward to, I will be working with Seasonal and Stationary today and tomorrow, then with the visual merchandisers on Wednesday and then Angels on Thursday and Friday. I met up with the VMs in mock shop this morning, they told me they have a sign off on Wednesday so they’ll be super busy and will definitely need my help! I’m really excited to work with them, hopefully it will give me a better insight into what I want to do after university!

This morning I finished off the task of organising the developmental samples for Tarran, I separated them into Alice Bands, Hair and Jewellery, I then separated them further into categories ponies, clic-clacs etc.
After I’d finished this organising task, I began working with Anna for the day. She asked me to carry on completing the PhotoFile task, she showed me the complicated task of adding new products onto the PhotoFile system and it was confusing! She showed me that files needed to be edited first as the files were too large to be put on the system, so I needed to resize them and then add the style code at the bottom of the image. I completed this before lunch. After lunch I will be adding them onto the system. I didn’t think this would take all day but it was a bigger task than I first anticipated!
I feel that I’ve definitely developed as a person throughout this experience, I feel more confident in myself and I’m very proud that I’ve come out of my comfort zone in such a big way. I feel that this internship has been such a great experience and I’d quite like to take part in more in the future. It’s good to actually get an idea of the different areas of the industry whilst also making an impression on potential employers, I’ve been told that nearly everyone who’s done an internship here has been offered a job if there’s been an opening which is amazing to think that you could be in the industry that quickly.

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09/12/2014
Today I carried on with some admin work which Anna had given me to do. I also finished my Christmas comp shop and also completed another comp shop for the Seasonal and Stationary team on ceramic travel cups as Accessorize will be introducing them into a new range. As I was doing the admin work on the computer Anna would explain what each document was for and what it meant. I had to enter details and images of different products from SS15 and AW15 into spreadsheets which would be sent off to different suppliers. It’s useful to understand the business side of buying. Anna explained to me that certain products can’t be or aren’t sent to certain countries, for example the Southern Hemisphere have different seasons and therefore would require different products in their stores than in the UK &EIRE. This is something I would have never thought of before but of course it makes perfect sense! Tomorrow I will be with the visual merchandisers in Mock Shop, I’m really excited to see this other part of this industry!

After work I decided to do a bit more touristy adventures and walked along the Southbank from Waterloo to London Bridge. London is so beautiful at night!

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500 words..

Today I began writing my 500 word essay for constellation, I’ve realised how much I enjoyed the areas covered in this lecture option whilst I was going through all my notes. It’s making me think that ideas regarding femininity could be a potential subject area for my dissertation. My essay is going well, I just need to adjust and tweet a few bits and hopefully it’ll be done. 500 words doesn’t seem like a lot so I thought it would take me long it it’s actually harder than you think,because you have to say the same thing as an in a long essay but condense it! However, I did find it a lot easier to write this essay than my last one, I think it is because of the subject that I found it easier.


Week Three

Week Three

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01/12/2014
Today has been a bit stressful so far! I began by trying to finish off the new room, making everything organised and hanging up production samples of each item and putting the rest in boxes in the cupboard. Unfortunately Tarran has quite an important meeting today which meant I had to put this on hold and help with grids and boards and along the way the room got quite messed up again. Hopefully as most of it is organised now it won’t take me too long to reorganise everything. For the rest of the day I finished organising the new room and hung up all the developmental samples from AW15.

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02/12/2014
Today I have been working with Angels again, I completed some admin work by creating a spreadsheet and entering information regarding different products which I found using product codes on the system Mercatus Rex. I am a bit frustrated with myself, there seems to be times quite frequently when I am sat at the desk with nothing to do.. Unfortunately I don’t feel I know well enough the work environment or my duties to commence with things on my own so I have to ask someone for something to do. I would prefer to be able to be more independent as I feel this gives a better impression to my colleagues I’m shadowing.
After lunch I was asked to create a comp shop for Angels, all about Christmas. I again searched different retailers focussing on those that sell kidswear and accessories and looked into four different areas, gifting, party wear, promotions and also the first page when you open up the website. Tarran was very interested in seeing a wide range of retailers so she said to research the common high street brands, yet also to look at higher end high street like Boden and J Crew and then to research designer brands like Ralph Lauren and Burberry. I’m finding it very interesting to do these comp shops.

03/12/2014
Today I am working with Seasonal and Stationary. To begin with I was asked to create boards for their AW14 phone cases. I was then asked to complete another comp shop, all about Christmas. The brief was to focus on Christmas tree decorations and Christmas gift sets and explore a range of different retailers from M&S to Harvey Nichs. Anna asked me to be a bit more selective with this Comp Shop as the previous one I had completed for her was a little too busy and a lot of the products were products Accessorize would not stock. I didn’t understand that this was what was needed last time so hopefully this one will be more acceptable! As the Power Point is needed for a meeting tomorrow I will be working on this for the rest the day. I like that I have been given a brief to complete independently.
Looking at all these Christmas products is definitely getting me in the Christmas spirit!! ⛄️🎅🎄🎁

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04/12/2014
Today I began by completing a few errands for the Angels team as Tarran had a big meeting today about Christmas products, summarising the comp shop I’d created for her and also the comp shop she completed in stores for the day yesterday. I also put away all the samples which had been sent back from the campaign photo shoot in Mexico. For the rest of the morning I worked on Mercatus Rex, Sophie asked me to check a list of products regarding the material they are made up of as the system had come back with errors meaning someone had entered some details incorrectly when raising the product so that it could be put into stores. I amended the details by finding out the supplier of the product and then looking the product up under the suppliers files. I’ve completed admin work before but it’s always good to develop on these kinds of skills. After I had finished this I ran a few more errands for the Angels team and then began helping out Anna from Seasonal and Stationary. I worked on PhotoFile again and checking if products had been photographed by web. Any products which hadn’t been photographed and weren’t on PhotoFile I found and took photos of which I will be adding either tomorrow or next week some time. There were quite a few items still missing as the products were all from Spring Summer 2015 so some have not been finalised into Production Samples ready to be shipped to stores yet.
I really like working with these systems and also working with the products from the upcoming seasons, as I’ve said previously it’s great to see the journey of the product and how it develops from the original sample to the production sample.
AND a bit of great news! I got the confirmation that I could shadow the Visual Merchandisers from Mock Shop!! Unfortunately as I left it a little late to organise this, they could only offer me one day, which is next Wednesday but it will still be a great experience and opens me up to other areas in the industry. I’m really looking forward to it!

05/12/2014
Today I am working with Angels as we only have a two man team! On Monday the head buyer and head merchandiser from Angels will be back from their trip to Asia visiting the suppliers. So today, Tarran wanted me to make sure all the grids and boards were all up to date and looking great! This is quite a long task so will take me the majority of the day. I again feel that this visual way of working appeals to me, making sure everything is presented in an appealing way. Hopefully this will benefit me on Wednesday when I go to work with the visual merchandisers.

Week three has continued to offer me great experiences in the area of buying. I’ve been asked a few times by members of the team what my opinion of this area of work is and whether I’ve decided if it’s something I’d like to do after completing my degree, I’ve thought about it and I’m still a little on the fence. I think Wednesday will help me in deciding whether I’d like to gain more experience in either buying or visual merchandising.